Infertility is hard, there’s no way around it. You may be just starting out on your journey, or months or years into it. No matter where you are on your path to parenthood, you’re bound to have bouts of negativity and feelings of depression. That’s completely normal and to be expected.
Thankfully, there are ways to manage those negative feelings when they pop up. Dr. Steven Young of UNC Fertility in Raleigh, North Carolina offers some tips on how to cope with the emotionally difficult side of infertility treatment.
Feel All the Feelings
Everyone’s experience with infertility treatment is different, but one thing is virtually guaranteed – it’s an emotional roller coaster. You may feel giddily optimistic one day only to be totally down in the dumps the next. There’s a lot going on during treatment: fluctuating hormones, periods of waiting, dealing with medications and appointments, and financial concerns.
Patients at UNC Fertility have found that it’s helpful to embrace each feeling as it comes and then move past it. Trying to deny that you’re frustrated, anxious, or sad tends to make those feelings linger longer than you’d like. If you’re feeling positive and upbeat, embrace it. And if you’re not? Well, embrace those feelings, too. Give yourself the freedom to feel whatever you’re feeling in the moment and arm yourself with techniques to work through those emotions in a productive way.
Whether it’s a trusted friend, doting aunt, or experienced therapist find someone you feel comfortable speaking with about your infertility struggles. Infertility treatment is likely one of the most challenging experiences you’ll have in your life, a support team can help get you through it. Keep in mind that not everyone is going to know exactly what you need when you need it. Feel free to guide them; they may not know just what to do, but they sincerely want to help and that’s invaluable.
Get Out of the House
Resist the temptation to bury your head under the covers indefinitely after a surprising test result or failed cycle. Give yourself a couple days to process what you’ve just experienced, and then get out of the house. Dr. Steven Young of UNC Fertility suggests doing whatever helps you recharge. Meet a friend. Get a massage. Take a hike. Volunteer. Once you’ve experienced them, do whatever it takes to move beyond those negative feelings and get back on a positive path.
Get It On
Sex pretty much becomes a job when you’re undergoing infertility treatment. Forget romance or spontaneity, so much planning and calculation goes into it that, for many, the pleasurable aspect of it all but disappears. Sex for anything but baby making probably hasn’t happened in quite some time.
This month, however, it’s time to change that. August is Romance Awareness Month and if the last time you felt romantic was pre-treatment, there’s no time like the present to bring back those loving feelings. Reignite the passion and revisit associating sex with pleasure. It’ll draw you closer to your partner, inject some fun into your life, and release those all-important feel-good hormones. An added bonus is that it will help you see your body as something other than a baby making machine, which can, in turn, bring back some of the confidence that may have faltered a bit during the treatment process.
Don’t Put Your Life On Hold
Between the monitoring visits, medication schedules, and anxiety infertility treatment can start to feel all consuming if you let it. It’s important to find a way to work it into your life, rather than putting your life on hold for your infertility treatment. Go ahead and take that vacation or plan that move. Stick with your yoga practice and try that cooking class you’ve been considering. If something ends up conflicting with treatment you can adjust accordingly. The idea is to not lose yourself to infertility, maintaining your overall wellness (including your interests and hobbies) will make the infertility treatment process more bearable and increase your sense of optimism throughout it.
Faltering optimism during infertility treatment is normal. No one, whether undergoing treatment or not, is upbeat all the time. Utilizing tools and strategies to weather those negative feelings in a healthy way will help you make the best of a less-than-ideal situation. For more tips on how to stay optimistic while undergoing infertility treatment, contact Dr. Steven Young of UNC Fertility at 919-908-0000.